It’s safe to say that the world we live in today is a digital one. You can get almost anything you could possibly want at the touch of a button. This, of course, is no bad thing; however, what is invariably hidden (and often forgotten) behind the scenes of these innovative processes is the human team that works to make things happen.
Let’s say you’ve decided to treat yourself to a new tablet PC on Amazon. What you as the customer see is a seamless, slick, front-end interface, allowing you to place your order within a matter of seconds. However, this would be a pointless exercise without the army of individuals that packages, ships and delivers your order, right to your front door.
The same can be said of patent translation in the IP industry; although you may never see the actual process that culminates in you receiving a top-quality translated document in multiple languages, the importance of human involvement ‘behind the scenes’ – delivered by highly qualified individuals with expert knowledge in their field – can’t be ignored.
Let’s meet some of the patent translation team, working behind the scenes in our IP Services division, as we explore their day-to-day life at RWS.
Collaboration and Quality
At RWS, the world’s leading provider of patent and IP-related translations and global filing services, we recognize the benefits that can be gained from maintaining a physical office, where project coordinators, in-house translators, linguistic revisors, IT, production staff and management can all be found together in a dedicated, collaborative office space. After all, when it comes to consistency and quality, collaboration is key.
To illustrate this, we’re going to take a look at some of the individuals involved in the patent translation process at our UK head office, and at how they bring value on a daily basis to the services that we provide to our clients. In this example, you’ll be meeting the individuals who are involved in the process of translating a patent document received from a large pharmaceutical client from English into Latin American Spanish.
First, we introduce you to two important members of our client-facing team, Liz and Jane.
Liz, as our Programme Manager, is the first point of contact for our client. She will review the client’s instructions, identify any specific requirements and ensure that the translation is assigned to the appropriate member of her team of coordinators, depending on the client, the language combination and the filing requirements.
As a coordinator, Jane’s role involves processing the order by logging the details into our internal management system, which allows it to enter our workflow, where she can monitor its progress and make updates.
Both Liz and Jane have extensive knowledge of patent translation and global filing requirements. They will ensure that any country-specific requirements affecting our document are followed to the letter – it’s no exaggeration to say that the two are skilled in the art of IP.
The logistics of translation
Now, let’s shift our focus to our operations team. In operations, we have Simon and Gemma, both of whom are responsible for what you might call the logistics of the translation, which predominantly revolve around scheduling. Simon is in charge of managing translator workloads. He ensures that there is sufficient time in our translator’s programme in which to complete the translation without any time constraints that could affect quality.
Gemma, in turn, has an overview of the entire translation and revision process. She is responsible for assigning an appropriate revisor to review the translation and for identifying any possible causes of delay well in advance of the point at which they could jeopardize our clients’ deadlines.
Language technology innovation
Next, we have Adam, who is a manager in our Language Technology department. Adam is one of Jane’s first ports of call when processing an order. He ascertains whether any of the technology solutions that RWS has at its disposal might be able to offer cost savings to our client. As such, Adam is an expert in the large range of technology solutions, many of which are proprietary, that we use on a daily basis to help improve quality and reduce costs for our clients. It’s also crucially important for him to keep up-to-date with any industry developments that could improve our service offering.
Linguistic specialism and subject-matter experience
So, you might be wondering, where is the team actually producing this translation we’ve heard so much about? Last, but certainly not least, let’s meet the linguistic team who would be working on this particular document, the majority of whom are native Spanish speakers – Manuel, Eva, Nora, Laura and Kasia.
Manuel, Eva and Nora are responsible for the initial stages of translation. Between the three of them, they have two Bachelor’s degrees, a Master’s degree, a PhD and almost 30 years’ worth of experience at RWS.
Manuel is both an allocator (one of several senior staff responsible for assigning texts for translation to the most suitable candidate from amongst our large group of staff translators working in-house) and a translator.
As an allocator, it is essential for Manuel to have a complete understanding of the document that he’s assigning. This is why we use experienced staff translators for this role. Manuel is responsible for ensuring that each patent is assigned to a subject specialist and native speaker. Eva meets both these requirements – she’s a native Spanish speaker and a chemist, with post-doctoral experience and an extensive background in research. She has also previously worked on numerous projects for leading pharmaceutical companies.
Large in-house translation team
Should cross-disciplinary knowledge be required, Eva is in the unique position of being able to consult colleagues working in allied fields as well as native speakers of the source language, due to our large in-house team of patent translators, which is made up of graduate and doctoral chemists, physicists and mechanical, electrical and electronics engineers.
The last member of our team, Nora, is tasked with ensuring that Eva’s translation is accurate in terms of patent language, terminology, content, spelling and grammar. Eva and Nora work in concert, pooling their vast knowledge to ensure total linguistic accuracy and the use of appropriate terminology, all with the aim of ensuring the translation produced is of the highest possible quality.
Final checking and quality assurance
Finally, we move onto Laura and Kasia, who are responsible for the final stages of the process.
Laura ensures that any amendments highlighted by Nora during the revision process are implemented. Kasia carries out an all-important final quality check, for example for national filing formalities, before dispatching the completed translation to the client or designated filing agent.
It is vital for Laura and Kasia to have the appropriate language skills to ensure that any changes implemented do not compromise the quality or meaning of the translation.
It is also essential that they have an excellent eye for detail, as they are the final link in our chain and represent the last chance to ensure that the translation we are delivering is absolutely first-class.
Patent Translation: a team approach
As you can see, what is truly unique to our approach is the sheer number of expert individuals who all play their part in bringing every translation to life.
Every person involved in the process is trained extensively for their role and has the appropriate linguistic knowledge and technical qualifications. This multi-step, in-house and coordinated team approach ensures a translation of the highest possible quality, prepared in a format ready for filing.
This allows our staff to work collaboratively, bouncing ideas off one another and providing support and advice, whenever and in whatever form it may be needed.
Here at RWS, we recognize that the premium-quality IP services we’ve provided for more than 60 years are only made possible through our distinctive fusion of innovative technology and expertly qualified individuals.